Is It More Cost-Effective to Replace or Repair Old Sash Windows?

The trouble with old houses is that there is always an innate reluctance to replace original features even if they are crumbling and not fit for purpose

The trouble with old houses is that there is always an innate reluctance to replace original features even if they are crumbling and not fit for purpose. Chunky, uPVC triple-glazed sash windows are an anathema to the owners of Georgian properties who would rather freeze to death with their rattling single-pane glass than admit defeat with their original sashes. However, now there is an alternative and it could be better for your wallet too.

Replace or Repair?

Replacing your sash windows might seem like a bridge too far but it is possible to install wooden equivalents which are both traditional in appearance and construction.

New wooden windows will also provide the opportunity to take advantage of some 21st-century technology and materials. This includes draught-proofing strips, springs instead of lead weights on a cord and thermal glass which means you can be as warm as toast on just single-pane glazing but still with traditional narrow frames and bars. Modern wooden sash windows are much warmer than old ones and this will help with household energy costs too. New treated timber and next-generation preservatives ensure longevity that was unthinkable even just a few years ago.

Why is repair so costly?

Repair is costly just because of the time taken.

Sash windows can have soft or rotten areas all around the wooden frame and this must be painstakingly cleaned out, treated, and then repaired and repainted. If your window has more rotten sections than good, then it could be time to think about an entirely new window and this can be retrofitted to the original frames if they are in sound condition.

Mix and Match

Not all your sash windows will deteriorate at the same rate. The ones most exposed to the sun and rain so that’s the south and west-facing elevations, will be subject to paint lift and rot more quickly. So, you could deal with those first and just repair the windows on more sheltered walls which may be in better condition.

How to Check for Rot

Paint can cover a multitude of sins and you might not be fully aware of just how bad your sash windows’ condition has become. Conversely, flaky paint might suggest that the frames and sills are in a more parlous state than they actually are. So, how can you assess this?

Check for rot in the lower corners of the window as this is the most common location. If you have cables running through the window frames, then these are also high-risk areas. Watermarks are a tell-tale sign of rot as is cracked brickwork around the corners of the window which will allow moisture penetration. Leaky guttering will cause problems for the windows below so pay particular attention to these locations and always fix the guttering first before you restore or replace the windows.
Windows that don’t open or shut properly either due to an inexpert paint job or because the mechanism and/or frame has deteriorated will lead to heat loss and increased energy bills. Windows painted shut, rather perversely, are more prone to rotting than those that open correctly.

What is Involved in Restoration?

With care and attention, old and tired wooden sash windows can be restored to virtually as good as new. This requires skilled craftsmanship and is a time-consuming process.

Usually, the windows must be removed for rot repair and to fit draught-proofing strips, runners and cords. If the rot is very bad, then new sections of wood may need to be spliced in which means cutting out the rotten timber, treating the space with preservative products and then cutting in a new section of timber. If the window is then sanded down, treated, primed and painted, the finished result will look great, and the wood securely weatherproofed against the elements. However, each window can take hours of work.

Whether it’s more cost-effective to repair or replace will be unique to each property and depends upon the level of restoration needed for each window. It is possible to lovingly repair old windows and use more modern fittings to bring them up to the standard of 21st-century living. However, if they are really on their last legs then it could be simpler and ultimately cheaper to replace them in their entirety with new wooden sashes and frames not forgetting the insulation benefits this will bring to your home. The golden rule when replacing any window is not to look for short-term solutions. Spending more and doing a proper job will definitely save you money in the long term when it comes to maintenance and repairs.

We produce wooden sash windows for all types of properties plus offer a repair and restoration service for sash windows that have seen better days. Using the most modern of materials with traditional techniques, now homes with sash windows can benefit from elegant and durable sash windows with 21st-century thermal regulation and draught proofing to ensure your home is warm and comfortable this winter. Our design service can retrofit any type of building with a huge range of sizes and shapes on offer to suit original frames.

Contact us here to learn more about our restoration and repair services or whether new wooden windows might be a better option for your home.